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Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 2, 2009 20:23 UTC (Wed) by Baylink (guest, #755)
Parent article: Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Rock, meet hard place. Hard place; this is rock.

Of *course* an open alternative to something that Novell charges money for is going to cause some people to utilize it instead of paying Novell money; that's precisely the point here.

So it's pretty disingenuous for anyone to say otherwise, whether Novell's paying them, or not.

The question is: from up here at 50,000 ft, "should" those people be paying?

A common business pattern is that a company provides a service, and charges for it, and the potential audience breaks down three ways:

1) People who need none of the aspects of the service
2) People who need only some of the aspects of the service
3) People who need all of the aspects of the service.

What a process like the one being discussed here does, is to convert people in the second category for reluctant higher-paying customers into people who patronize the competing cheaper/free service, which provides all the aspects they actually *need*, but doesn't charge them for aspects they do not need -- in the case of SuSE it's probably paid support by email and phone calls; in some analogous cases, it might be a bigger seat and free drinks on the airplane, or the ability to rebook your ticket for a different flight, or a pool at the hotel... all of these are examples of where a semi-competitor came in with fewer frills at a lower price point, and stole some business from an established player.

In this case, the situation is *slightly* different, since CentOS is using the code that Red Hat assembled into a distribution, and the SuSE project would work similarly... but that's the price those companies pay: they would not have a product line at all but for the contributions of others under the GPL, and they are, therefore, not permitted to bitch about this, without looking childish. IMHO.


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Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 2, 2009 20:24 UTC (Wed) by Baylink (guest, #755) [Link]

And the part I missed: if you don't want *other companies* to cannibalize your customer base, then you have to be prepared to do it yourself...

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 2, 2009 23:21 UTC (Wed) by ewan (subscriber, #5533) [Link]

It's worth noting that Redhat's support of the rebuild distributions is entirely voluntary. If you buy a supported copy of RHEL they'll give you both the binaries and the source in one go, discharging their obligations under the GPL. Plus there's the large fraction of the distro that's not licensed under the GPL, and all the stuff Redhat owns the copyright on, none of which they need release source for at all, much less in nicely packaged, easily rebuilt src.rpms freely available to everyone online.

Redhat don't support the rebuilds because they have to, they do it because they want to. We can speculate on why that is, but my guess is that the reasons would include:

- No vendor lock in. It's a point made generally in favour of Free software, but it's particularly convincing for RHEL; if you don't like the support, stop using it, and run a clone. Other than the support nothing changes.

- Community relations. Acting like openness is something that you believe in, not something that has to be dragged from you is only good PR in a community like this, and it's this community that creates quite a lot of Redhat's product for them.

- Forming habits. If I need an 'enterprise' type distribution but I've got no money, or if I just want something to learn on, or I'm not sure it's the right way to go, I'm not going to stump up for either SLES or RHEL. I might try CentOS though, and if I do, then when I do need the paid support I'm going to go to Redhat because they support the system I'm already used to, unless there's a massively compelling reason to deal with the migration somewhere else.

I can't imagine why those reasons wouldn't apply equally to Novel, but maybe they can.

Red Hat and derivative distributions

Posted Sep 3, 2009 19:32 UTC (Thu) by brugolsky (subscriber, #28) [Link]

I'd add that Red Hat has separated out the files that carry their trademarked items (artwork, etc.) into separate packages that are readily replaced. They could easily have made the process much more difficult by spreading their trademarked bits throughout the source rpms.

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 4, 2009 22:18 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

A good analysis.

The basic economic ignorance in the discussion and to some extent the article covering it is the common claim that big companies can afford higher prices than small companies.

In a free market, no company, no matter how large, can afford to pay $10 for $5 worth of stuff. So SLES is already being sold at its minimum price. To make the case that small businesses need a new SUSE product, you have to show that they need less product than the big guys, not that they need a lower price.

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 5, 2009 0:34 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

quote:

In a free market, no company, no matter how large, can afford to pay $10 for $5 worth of stuff.

the problem is how do you determine if the stuff is worth $5, $10, or $15?

there is a LOT of equipment out there that I consider horribly overpriced that sells well and lets the companies that sell it make a LOT of money. so obviously to someone else it's not considered overpriced.

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 5, 2009 2:00 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

the problem is how do you determine if the stuff is worth $5, $10, or $15?

That's a problem, but I'm talking about the claim that we need a less expensive SUSE because small companies, as opposed to large ones, can't afford SLES. The problem of valuing SUSE would apply equally to large and small companies.

Another way of looking at it is that if there really is a way to give 5 years of support for less than $800 a year, big companies will be as interested as small ones.

I feel the same way about some enormously expensive computer equipment, not to mention services, but I'm humble enough to admit that I might not understand all the complexities. Companies that spend $50,000 on a router do have skilled people put a lot of time into evaluating it. And if they really can't get more than $5,000 of value out of it, their smarter competitors would drive them out of business.

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 5, 2009 2:39 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

so by your logic, CentOS should not exist as RHEL is already selling for exactly what it's worth.

there is however a difference here

some people want packages that are maintained for a significant time period

some people want a version that a third party will support their software on

other people want a tech support number they can call if they have problems

CentOS or OpenSLES cater to the people who want one or both of the first two, but are willing to do without the last

Toward a long-term SUSE-based distribution

Posted Sep 5, 2009 3:15 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

CentOS or OpenSLES cater to the people who want one or both of the first two, but are willing to do without the last

Ah, so that's my point. The customers of these vs the customers for the full price versions don't differ in that one can afford to pay more than the other, but that one can use more service than the other. Assuming we're talking about businesses, "willing to do without" means "has less expensive alternatives."


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